Corrupt in ways large and small
Cristina Cifuentes is a textbook example of “all the behaviors that damage democracy and pollute politics,” said El País. The former leader of Madrid’s regional government was once seen as a future leader of the ruling, center-right People’s Party, but that was before reporters began to ask whether she had really earned the master’s degree in law she claimed to have. To silence the doubters, Cifuentes produced a document signed by three professors at Madrid’s King Juan Carlos University, and the dean vouched for her. In fact, as it turned out, she was just one recipient in a long-running scam to provide fake degrees to friendly politicians. Even after she was exposed, Cifuentes took no responsibility for her cheating, instead blaming the university. She finally resigned as Madrid’s leader last month after a seven-year-old video came to light showing her being frisked by supermarket security guards after shoplifting two tubs of face cream. Her personal criminality is appalling, but even worse is the way her party stood by her. Even as the evidence of fraud mounted, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said nothing, while senior party officials gave her a “parade of support and applause” until hours before her resignation. The sordid display tarnished not just the party, but Spanish democracy itself.